When it comes to building and paving roads, asphalt has been the preferred material for many decades. Yet despite its incredible strength and versatility, it’s still susceptible to wear, tear, and deterioration. Understanding how to repair asphalt can mean the difference between a simple fix and a more expensive problem that lingers for years.
The Common Causes of Asphalt Deterioration
Asphalt is known for its durability and resilience in road applications. It’s one of the most durable materials available and provides a sleek, visually appealing finish when properly applied. Yet like any other road material, it takes a beating. And sometimes the asphalt can’t stand up to the pressure. When this happens, there are typically three types of asphalt deterioration that occur:
- Cracking. This is, by far, the most common form of deterioration. Cracking is almost guaranteed to occur over time and it takes on many forms with different names – including fatigue cracking, block cracking, reflection cracking, edge cracking, alligatoring, etc.
- Disintegration. Whereas a crack is typically an inch or less in diameter, asphalt disintegration includes larger sections, commonly referred to as potholes. These bowl-shaped holes are caused by disintegration of the pavement surface and/or weak spots in the base or subgrade.
- Distortion. When pavement is improperly applied or material used, rainwater and pressure from traffic and tires can lead to channels, ruts, corrugations, and grade depressions. Over time, these distortions become worse and compromise the safety and integrity of the road.
An asphalt road or parking lot will never look better than it does on the day it’s applied. From that day on, rain, snow, temperature fluctuations, traffic, and time put a toll on the pavement. Distress and deterioration are guaranteed to occur over time. How and when you choose to repair these issues goes a long way in determining the long-term cost and safety of the road.
Choosing the Right Asphalt Repair Method
Depending on the type of deterioration, there are numerous asphalt repair methods to choose from. Some of the most effective and widely used include:
- Crack sealing. When it comes to cracks, crack sealing is the preferred method. Using a hot rubberized crack sealer, you complete a three-part process wherein you (1) prep the rack with a router or crack saw, (2) clean the crack to remove any loose debris, and (3) seal the crack with a rubberized material. Not only is crack sealing a cost-effective procedure, but it’s also durable. The flexible nature of the sealant allows it to move with the pavement over time and stop water and debris from entering the crack, which ensures greater longevity.
- Spray patching. The spray injection method, also known as spray patching, is typically used when there are larger area cracks or disintegration. The spray patching equipment is first used to blow out any water or debris from the crack or pothole. A sealant layer of emulsion is put down to prevent water from infiltrating the subbase, then an aggregate and emulsion mixture is injected into the area to build the patch and allowed to cure.
- Full-depth patching. In cases where there’s serious disintegration in a large area, sealing and spray injection methods won’t always hold up over months or years. In these situations, a full-depth path is needed with perhaps subbase reconstruction as well. This process involves excavating the area to a depth of at least four inches and extending the patching area at least 12 inches in all directions to provide a firmer latch point. A tack coat is sprayed in the patch, followed by an asphalt mix that’s finished off with a method of bonding.
Extending the Life of Your Asphalt with Amaco
Deterioration in asphalt is normal – it’s strong but it isn’t perfect. The key to managing the asphalt surface condition is to make smart, timely choices that extend the life of the road with the funds, resources, and labour you have available. Through a combination of various sealing and patching methods, you should be able to maintain safe and sturdy roads over many years and even decades.
At Amaco, we’re proud to be Ontario’s leading provider of Falcon Road Maintenance and Cimline Pavement Maintenance machines for crack filling and patching jobs. Please contact us to learn more about the products we sell and how they can help you with your next job!
Amaco is Ontario’s heavy equipment specialist and has helped municipalities, contractors, and owner-operators across the province find the right machine solutions for them. Contact us today to discuss your needs!
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